Coronavirus, Prevention

Free masks available for low-income Washingtonians

State supplies masks to eligible residents

Washington State Department of Health

Do you need a mask? There are masks in every color and even some printed with awesome graphics available online, but they are not exactly free.

Maybe you can sew well enough to make your own amazing masks, but, well, not all of us are gifted with that amount of talent or patience. In a pinch, a couple layers of any cloth wrapped around your nose and mouth will do, but a couple of dedicated masks can really make things easier.

And since we are covering our faces to save lives, let’s just make it as easy as possible!

Washington state has purchased 3.6 million cloth face masks to provide two masks to every person in Washington below 200% of the federal poverty level (which means, for example, a family of four earning $52,400 or less).

We have already sent 2.8 million masks to local emergency management programs, who are working with various community organizations and service providers to deliver them to people who need them.

If you would like to know how to pick up some masks, contact the local emergency manager for your county, listed here:

While you are at it, throw away any masks you might have that don’t stay on your face right or have holes in them. More information about face coverings is available on the state’s COVID-19 website.

Mask are safe for most people, but some people with certain health or medical conditions cannot wear them safely. There are several exemptions in the statewide order to wear masks. If you’re unable to wear a face covering, just don’t. You don’t need to explain your condition to anyone, and you don’t need a fake “mask exemption card” like we’ve seen circulating on social media. If a business won’t allow you to enter their office or store without a face mask, ask them about curbside pick-up, delivery, or virtual meeting options.

And remember, when it comes to COVID-19, even after you have your masks, you are still safest in your home. When you venture out, do so only when you are feeling well, make sure you have your face covered in public places, stay at least six feet away from other people, and use plenty of hand sanitizer.

Practice compassion. If you can sew masks, you can participate in the Lt. Governor’s Mask Challenge! Then fill in the form on the Lt. Governor’s web page to let them know you have masks available.

They will give you instructions for sending your masks to an organization that needs them. See the Lt. Governor’s page for details: